Monday, January 25, 2016

week 3 reading response

     Heather Hendershot, in her article “Parks and Recreation: the Cultural Forum,” redefines the pattern of television as a cultural forum and marks the concept of the cultural forum presented by Horace Newcomb and Paul M.Hirsch in their article “ Television as a Cultural Forum” as the old cultural forum. Hendershot claims that “narrowly targeted niche TV thus provides ‘self-confirmation,’ leaving little room for the old cultural forum ideal of ideas in conflict” (206). Both articles keep away from the left-right debates about hegemonic beliefs and neutrally describe television as a cultural forum that puts emphasis on “process rather than product, on discussion rather than indoctrination, on contradiction, and confusion rather than coherence” (211)(564). However, I would like to borrow a sentence describing “hegemony” from the third article, “Prime Time Ideology: the Hegemonic Process in Television Entertainment,” to comment on the idea of the cultural forum that if something explains everything, it explains nothing (252, Gitlin).
     Thanks to the third article, which pulled back to face the debate of hegemonic ideology in television directly, because the development of communications technology is for military and political operation (12 Raymond Williams), there is no doubt that, from the perspective of producers, hegemonic ideology has always existed in television as a cultural forum, whether it is new or old. Nevertheless, I am interested in the effectiveness of the hegemonic process in these two different development periods, or in other words, how audiences can be manipulated by the intention of hegemonic ideology. In the old culture forum period, Victor Turner presented the view of the liminal stage (563), which was an unstable stage for cultural hegemonism because individuals were looking for texts that matched their preexisting experiences (570). This meant that individuals still had the attitude to choose between two options: to be persuaded or not. However, in the “new” culture forum, “narrowly targeted niche TV provides refined ‘self-confirmation’” to manifold audiences, so that individuals can have different options: to be persuaded by A, B, C, or D. Therefore, describing TV as a cultural forum is inappropriate because a discussion does not exist between TV and the audience. Instead, audiences are accepting the other indoctrinations from A, B, C, or D.

1 comment:

  1. I think you bring up an essential problem that i think Hendershot attempts the skirt, which is whether one can make claims to this in contemporary audiences if the market is saturated enough that no one person has to even engage with this material. Hendershot argues that because NBC is a large network, "advertising stakes are higher than they would be elsewhere," but that assumes that all advertisers live in a vacuum. She additionally argues that "if the Christian Right would *notice* this gutsy show, they might be reasonably provoked" (209). Or, perhaps, they could simply change the channel as we all do today. In the age of curation, there's no reason to be objected to objectionable content, and thus I think her point that the show works as a public forum falls apart if there's no public to exist. Parks & Rec might model itself somewhat off the same as Father Knows Best, but it ultimately still appeals that would not take offense to either side.

    This brings up another question specific to TV: none of these episodes are particularly *early* episodes, which means these shows feel the need to play it safe until a reasonable point where an audience is secured (The one exception I think is "The Benefactor" from The Defenders, which was meant to be its first aired episode, but was pushed back by CBS to somewhere mid-season). What does it say about the ideology of TV if there is a fear in objectionable content until it gains a trusting audience?